Robert B. Livingston
February 28, 2005
Legendary Journalist Talks About the Media in America
Broadcasting legend Fred Friendly converses about his experiences and ideas regarding what we today call "the Media". Almost every sentence he utters is quotable and worth pondering; here are a few of his statements:
"The trouble with broadcasters is that they focus on what they have a right to do under the Constitution rather than what the right thing to do is."
"Courts are not adjudicators of good journalism-- journalists are."
"Wall Street and investment bankers are a disease in this country."
"Television has so changed [Americans] that they don't have it in them to declare something 'unacceptable'."
"I've been better in my life at asking questions than answering them.... I have a motto: My job is not to make up anybody's mind but to make the agony of decision making so intense that you can escape only by thinking."
During the program, Friendly deplores how commercial television increasingly puts money ahead of the public good, and how monopolies are abridging freedom.
He deplores gay "outing" as a destructive abridgment of privacy and reveals his long-hidden dyslexia.
He reveals that media takeovers are driven by investment bankers and adds that CBS began to change for the worse when Jesse Helms and Ted Turner attempted to take it over.
He explains how nobility of purpose fled journalism when news became another marketable "profit center".
He demands that the People reassert their dignity by rejecting poor broadcast standards-- just as they should reject homelessness which he observes as a growing and troubling phenomenon.
He reveals that he never thought that the costs and purposes of the Cold War had merit.
He reveals that his friend and colleague, Edward R. Murrow, had virtually given up on television in spite of what others had written about him.
Paraphrasing Murrow, Friendly says:
"Television is a harvest of greed. Period."